Over the past week the warm-up matches have shown exactly why this world cup is going to be an exciting one. Of the last 14 pre tournament games there have been some expected wins but more importantly there have been some surprising wins and some very close games! The World Cup title is very much still up for grabs.
The warm-up games began with Australia beating the 2011 World Cup champions. As expected, India’s bowling attack were not up to scratch. They conceded too many runs and did not seem to challenge the Australian batsmen at all. Both David Warner and Glen Maxwell (who performed incredibly with the bat in the 2014 IPL) scored centuries and led Australia to a score of 371 runs. In response India were only able to muster 265 all out. However it was a great start for Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu and especially for Shikhar Dhawan (who had been out of form) as they all scored half centuries. Luckily for India the only really troublesome pace attack they will face through the group stages is South Africa’s and so they have a chance to improve before facing the hosts.
The next match went down as expected with South Africa beating Sri Lanka, however they only won through D/L and were five wickets down for 188 chasing 279, it could have gone either way. Match four however was where the interesting things really began. England bowled out the West Indies team for 122 runs, and then went on to beat them with nine wickets and 163 balls to spare. Despite this crushing win, England then went on to lose their second warm-up game to Pakistan.
The biggest surprise of the warm-up though, came from Scotland. Not only did they crush Ireland by a margin of 179 runs, but they went on to score 310 runs chasing West Indies’ score of 313 in their second game, an incredible start from an associate nation. Though they have done extremely well in the warm up games, Scotland will find it extremely difficult to qualify. Being in pool A they will face both host nations who are in great nick along with England and Sri Lanka. Expectations of Ireland were not diminished fully even after their crushing loss to Scotland though. They went on to bowl Bangladesh out for less than 200 and chased down the runs in 47 overs. With the pools in favour of Ireland, we could still see them in the quarter finals.
Unfortunately once again South Africa’s World Cup antics continue as they lost their warm up game against New Zealand, they very much missed the pace and aggression of Dale Steyn and the stability of Hashim Amla. New Zealand who seem to have peaked at the perfect time piled on the runs scoring a total of 331 runs. South Africa then went on to score a total of 197 all out with only JP Duminy making a significant contribution to the batting. Regardless of two key players being rested, considering the quality of the rest of the team and their recent form it was extremely surprising they ended up 62-6 from 14 overs. If South Africa rely so heavily on these two players they will have a serious problem if one of them gets injured during the tournament.
Once again, Australia appear to be on top and ready to take the title but it could well end up being an epic clash of the hosts in the finals.